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Stocks Slide Firmly Into Negative Territory In Morning Trading - U.S. Commentary


Stocks have come under pressure during morning trading on Thursday, offsetting the modest gains posted in the previous session. The major averages have slid firmly into negative territory after turning in a relatively lackluster performance over the past few days.

Currently, the major averages remain in the red but off their worst levels of the day. The Dow is down 100.93 points or 0.4 percent at 23,462.43, the Nasdaq is down 41.81 points or 0.6 percent at 6,747.31 and the S&P 500 is down 11.69 points or 0.5 percent at 2,582.69.

Profit taking may be contributing to the early weakness on Wall Street after the uptick seen on Wednesday lifted the major averages to new record closing highs.

Uncertainty about the outlook for the Republican tax reform plan is also weighing on the markets along with rising tensions in the Middle East.

After several quiet days on the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department also released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended November 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 239,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 229,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 231,000.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed wholesale inventories rose by 0.3 percent in September, matching economist estimates.

Traders are also keeping an eye on developments overseas, as President Donald Trump continues his trip to Asia with a visit to China.

Trump complained of unfair trade practices by China during a speech in Beijing but said he did not blame the communist country.

"After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?" Trump said. "I give China great credit."

Trump instead put the blame on previous presidents and pledged to work hard to make the relationship between the U.S. and China fair and reciprocal.

"Trade between China and the United States has not been, over the last many, many years, a very fair one for us," Trump said. "We must immediately address the unfair trade practices that drive this deficit, along with barriers to market success."

Semiconductor stocks have shown a significant move to the downside in morning trading, dragging the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index down by 1.7 percent. The index is pulling back off its best closing level in over seventeen years.

Networking, steel, and internet stocks are also seeing considerable weakness, while natural gas stocks are rebounding after coming under pressure on Wednesday.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has fallen by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the modest pullback seen over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 1.3 basis points at 2.338 percent.

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